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Talent is a dirty word. August 20, 2008

Posted by mattlee in Uncategorized.
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Mark Brooks is an artist who illustrates for marvel comics. More specifically, he draws for X-Men, Spiderman and Fanstastic Four.  He has a deviantart account, and recently posted this little rant on the word ‘talent’.

I hear the word ‘talent’ thrown around a lot whether directed toward me or the myriad of other skilled artists here or any of the other places artists like to hang out. I’ve always been of the opinion that there is no such thing as talent but rather the drive and determination to do something you love and the aptitude to keep working at it to get better and better. To say someone is talented(to me anyway) is to suggest that there was one day when we just decided to pick up a pencil or a paint brush and were able to draw or paint well. I feel it downplays the years of hard work, living in squalor, and rejection we put in to get to the level we’ve achieved.

I don’t know about you but I sucked the first time I decided to take drawing seriously and continued to suck for years. I worked my ass off and gradually (very gradually) got better and better and continued to learn and grow. Do I think I was born to be an artist? I like to think so and don’t think I could be as successful at anything else even if I put the same effort forward but it still came as the result of years and years sitting in my room and filling sketchbooks with crappy drawing after crappy drawing. I knew I wanted to be an artist and I wanted to do very little else. It’s an aptitude perhaps but even then it comes after a lot of hard work.

I challenge you; strike the word talent from your vocabulary. Stop downplaying the effort put forward by others or the effort you’re putting forward yourself. It does a disservice to us as artists and becomes a crutch to those that can’t draw and gives them an excuse not to even try. I hear “I can’t draw. I have no talent” or “I can’t even draw a stick figure”. Well, maybe you can’t but it’s only from a lack of trying and not from the inherent ability to not be able to draw. Find your favorite artist here on DA and take a long hard look at their work because you can be just as good if not better. They aren’t supermen and everything they’ve accomplished artistically can be a realistic goal for everyone else. They didn’t wake up one day being able to draw and neither will you. Once you fully realize this ,embrace it, and start putting that pen to paper for hours at a time I think you’ll find that all your artistic goals are in reach.

So the next time you see a really skilled artist and want to compliment him or her don’t say that they’re ‘talented’. Congratulate them on all the hard work they’ve put in to get that good. It’s only a few more words and I think you’ll find it sets you apart from everyone else.

The above applies to magicians as well. We kep buying DVD after DVD, book after book hoping to find some easy solution, some holy grail self-working trick etc. What we are really searching for is a shortcut.

I have come to realise that there is none. Perfect technique, comes with practice.

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